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How to Take Care of Your Child's Teeth at Home 


Brushing

The most important things you can do for your children’s oral and dental well-being is to get them brushing (and flossing) as early as possible.

There are 3 primary things to consider when helping children develop good brushing habits: when to begin, how to do it and how often.

When to Begin

Parents and caregivers should begin brushing their infants’ teeth when their first tooth erupts! Use only water or a tiny amount of non-fluoridated toothpaste and a very soft toothbrush.

Even before eruption, the mouth can be cleaned with a soft wash cloth.

After the age of 2, a grain of rice sized amount of fluoride toothpaste can be introduced for night-time brushing. Parent-aided brushing should continue until the age of 8-9, or until your child has developed the manual dexterity to wash your crystal glasses!

Technique

Teaching kids great brushing technique is as important as getting them used to brushing:

  • Brush in small circles — this will get at any food that’s ended up under the gum line.
  • Hold the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle rather than flat against the teeth.
  • Go slowly and carefully, to make sure each tooth is cleaned.
  • Always brush away from, not into, the gums.
  • Brush each side of each tooth — not just the surface used for chewing.
  • Don’t forget to brush the tongue.
  • A fluoride rinse could be used after brushing and flossing to enhance fluoride protection.

Frequency

Aim to have your kids brush 2-3 times a day, every day. It is ideal to disrupt cavity-causing plaque at least every 12 hours! 

Help get them into the habit of doing so at regular times, such as:

  • After meals
  • When they get home from school or daycare
  • Right before bed

And remember: as soon as their toothbrush starts to look worn or frayed, it’s time for a new one!

Brushing & Flossing | Kids R Us

Brushing & Flossing | Kids R Us

Flossing

Flossing should become part of your children’s daily dental routine as soon as possible. Your little one’s gums may bleed a little as they begin flossing and their gums adjust to this new experience; this is normal. But if it continues after you or they have gently flossed their teeth several times, consult your pediatric dentist.

You can start with floss sticks for toddlers, but multiple floss sticks have to be used for an entire mouth in order to prevent cross contamination! It is ideal to progress to string once children are 3 years of age.

When to Begin

Help your kids get used to flossing every day once they have 2 or more teeth touching each other.

Technique

  • Wrap the ends of a short piece of floss tightly around the middle or index fingers.
  • Ideally flossing should be done at night, so that all the food trapped during the day is removed prior to sleeping.
  • Run the floss between each tooth at the gum line to remove food or plaque; some teeth may require multiple attempts if they’re very close together.
  • Move along the length of the floss so that it’s clean for every tooth.
  • Don’t forget to floss behind the back teeth too, even though they’re only touching other teeth on one side.

Frequency

At least once a day, especially after eating foods that tend to get trapped in teeth or are sugary.

Xylitol For Reducing Cavities

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recognizes the benefits of xylitol on the oral health of infants, children, adolescents, and persons with special health care needs.

The use of Xylitol gum by mothers (2-3 times per day) starting 3 months after delivery and until the child was 2 years old, has proven to reduce cavities up to 70% by the time the child was 5 years old.

Studies using xylitol as either a sugar substitute or a small dietary addition have demonstrated a dramatic reduction in new tooth decay, along with some reversal of existing dental caries. Xylitol effects are long-lasting and possibly permanent. Low decay rates persist even years after the trials have been completed.

Xylitol is widely distributed throughout nature in small amounts. Some of the best sources are fruits, berries, mushrooms, lettuce, hardwoods, and corn cobs. One cup of raspberries contains less than one gram of xylitol.

To find gum or other products containing xylitol, try visiting your local health food store for products containing 100% xylitol.

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